PHEAA Recommends Students Search for Scholarships

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Receiving scholarship awards means less borrowing and less debt

Harrisburg, PA (November 20, 2013)—The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is encouraging students to research and apply for any scholarships for which they may qualify. Scholarships, along with grants, are free money awards that do not need to be repaid. The more free money awards a student can receive, the less student loan debt they will incur during college.

"College-bound students are busy deciding what school to attend, what course of study to take, and meeting all the deadlines associated with those choices. Researching ways to finance their plans sometimes takes a back-seat in the decision-making process," said Representative William Adolph, PHEAA Board Chairman. "Students should know that taking the time to apply for scholarships can significantly reduce the amount of money they need to borrow."

Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate or show high-achievement in areas such as academics, athletics, music, art and many other fields. They can be offered by federal or state governments, schools, civic organizations like the Rotary or Lions Clubs, religious institutions, businesses or trade associations and private foundations. Students should ask their school counselor if they are aware of scholarships that may be available, in addition to exploring the free scholarship search engines and databases on the Internet.

"Students should be aware that they don't have to be class valedictorian or play a varsity sport to qualify for scholarship awards. There is tremendous diversity in scholarship qualifications," said Senator Wayne D. Fontana, PHEAA Board Vice Chairman. "In today's tight economy, students and parents are looking to save wherever they can—so taking the time to apply for scholarships makes financial sense."

Examples of relatively unknown scholarships include:

  • Keep the Drive High School Journalism Award
    $700–$2,000: Applicants must submit a print or broadcast video entry that promotes safe driving habits among students
  • Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
    $5,000: Applicants must be vegetarians who have promoted vegetarianism in their school and/or community. Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle.
  • Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest
    $10,000: Applicants must create a photo, artwork or computer graphic for the front of a greeting card.

PHEAA's career and college-planning website,, links to FastWeb, a free national scholarship search engine. Simply fill out a brief student profile and FastWeb will search for awards for which you may qualify. Students' profile information is not shared with any third-parties. Keep in mind, you don't need to have a 4.0 GPA, be a star running back or a concert-level violinist to find scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships for a wide-range of students, such as awards for students with environmental interests. Once students complete their profile, the FastWeb search engine provides links to the awards that match their profile. Each award links-out to the application for the scholarship.

PHEAA encourages students and families to be cautious if contacted by organizations offering to provide scholarship searches for a fee. Some companies are legitimate and others are not. If students are promised a scholarship, are told they've already won a scholarship and must submit a fee to get the award or are told they can't find this information anywhere else, they should be wary of agreeing to participate. Students should never provide their social security number or bank account information if requested Several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams every year, costing those victims more than $100 million annually.

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